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How to Grow Blueberries in Pots in the UK

Written by Sarah Talbot

Blueberries are a great fruit to grow. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore how to grow blueberries in pots in the UK. We'll cover everything from when to plant to how to harvest these juicy berries. 

How to Start Your Blueberry Growing Journey

Before diving into the specifics of growing blueberries in pots, you need to decide how you want to begin your blueberry journey. There are three primary ways to get started: growing from seeds, cuttings, or bare root plants. Each method has its advantages and challenges, and the best choice depends on your preferences.

1. Growing Blueberries from Bare Roots plants: 

Bare root blueberry bushBare-root are available in garden centres and even at your upermarket. They are are dormant, young blueberry plants with exposed roots. 
To grow blueberries from bare roots
Plant your bare root blueberry bush in a large pot (see below for sizes) or your garden when the roots are still dormant, usually in late winter or early spring, 
Caring for bare root plants
Water your newly planted bare-root blueberry generously and provide adequate care as the plant begins to grow.

    2. Growing Blueberries from Cuttings:

    Propagating blueberries from cuttings can be an effective way to clone your favorite blueberry plant. Here's how to do it:

    Select Blueberry Cuttings: Take semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer or early autumn. Cut sections of healthy branches that are around 4-6 inches long.
    Rooting Medium: Dip the cut end of the blueberry cuttings in rooting powder and plant them in a Rootrainers (perfect for keeping your cuttings organised) filled with a suitable rooting medium, like a mix of perlite and peat moss.
    Root Development: Keep the cuttings in a warm, humid environment, such as a propagator, until roots form. This can take a few months.

      3. Growing Blueberries from Seed:

      Starting blueberries from seed can be a rewarding but time-consuming. You can buy blueberry seed or you can grow them from fruit by collecting the seeds of ripe berries from store bought fruit. Once you have the seeds, follow these steps:

      Squashed blueberry growign from seed Cold Stratification
        Blueberry seeds require a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. Place the seeds in a moist paper towel or seed-starting mix and refrigerate for about 2-4 months.

        Planting Blueberry Seeds
          After stratification, sow the seeds in a seed tray or small pots with an acidic, well-draining soil mix. Keep the soil consistently moist.

          Transplanting Blueberry seedlings
            When the seedlings have grown large enough, transplant them to individual pots or your garden.

                Choosing the Best Method for Growing Blueberries in the UK

                Now, which method is best? It depends on your goals and gardening skills:

                Bare Roots
                Starting with bare-root plants offers a head start on the growth process compared to seeds. It's a suitable choice for those who want to enjoy fruit sooner.
                Propagating blueberries from cuttings allows you to replicate your favorite plant. It's a great option for gardeners who want to maintain the characteristics of a specific blueberry variety.
                Growing blueberries from seeds is a cost-effective option, but it's slowest, and you may not get identical plants to the parent. This method is ideal for patient gardeners and those interested in breeding new blueberry varieties.

                  Ultimately, the best method for you depends on your preferences and the time you're willing to invest. 

                  When to Plant Blueberries in Pots

                  The UK climate can be somewhat challenging for blueberry cultivation due to its relatively low pH and tendency towards damp conditions. To get the best results, it's crucial to choose the right time to plant your blueberries.

                  Spring is Ideal: You can plant bare toot blueberries in early winter but the ideal time to plant blueberries is early spring, typically from March to May. This allows the plants to establish their roots before the growing season starts. It's best to avoid planting blueberries during the colder winter months when they may be exposed to frost.

                  Choosing the Right Soil to Grow Blueberries

                  Selecting the right type of soil for your blueberries is paramount, as they are acid-loving plants. Blueberries thrive in well-draining, acidic soil with a pH level between 4.5 and 5.5. They need this lower pH level to access essential nutrients in the soil, such as iron. 

                  Well-Draining Soil

                  Blueberries detest waterlogged conditions, which can lead to root rot. Opt for a soil mix that offers good drainage to prevent water from accumulating around the roots.

                  To create the ideal growing environment for your blueberries in pots, you can mix your own potting soil. A suitable mix consists of:

                  - Ericaceous Compost: This compost is specially formulated for acid-loving plants and has a lower pH level.
                  - Perlite or Sand: Adding perlite or sand improves drainage and prevents waterlogging.

                    Which pot size to use for Growing Blueberries

                    20L Vigoroot pot with blueberry plant for growign blueberries from bare root plantsSelecting the right pot to grow your blueberries is important.  Choose a pot that is at least 18 inches (45 cm) in diameter and has drainage holes. The size of the pot is crucial to accommodate the extensive root system of blueberry plants. Do not worry if you don't have room for such a big pot.  

                    The best pot to grow blueberries in is a 20L 20L Vigoroot Pot this will give you long term blueberry growing success and is only 30cm wide.  If you have more room then the or 30L Vigoroot pot-  is still a better choice than a standard pot because of how Vigoroot works. 

                    Why are Vigoroot Pots better?

                    Vigoroot pots are better because they are made from a special fabric which allows the blueberry plant roots to air-prune.  This not only allows you to grow in less compost but it also produces a fundamentally different root structure that prevents the plant ever becoming pot bound.

                    This is especially important for fruit bushes as once they become pot bound they will stop fruiting and this is usually irreversible. So if you don't use Vigoroot then you need to keep a careful eye on your plant and repot at the first sign of it outgrowing its pot. 

                    Planting and Caring for Blueberry Bushes

                    Once you've chosen the right pot and soil, it's time to plant your blueberry bushes in pots. Here's a step-by-step guide:

                    Planting Depth:
                    Place the blueberry plant in the pot at the same depth it was in its nursery container (you can see this on the stem). The soil level should be just above the root ball.

                    Keep the soil consistently moist, but avoid overwatering. Blueberries require regular, deep watering, especially during dry spells. A saucer under the pot can help maintain adequate moisture levels.

                    Blueberries benefit from a slow-release, acid-loving fertilizer. Apply the fertiliser in the spring and again in the early summer.
                    Prune your blueberry bushes in late winter or early spring to remove any dead or damaged branches. This encourages new growth and higher fruit yields.
                    Apply a layer of mulch, such as pine needles or wood chips, around the base of your blueberry plants. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, regulates temperature, and suppresses weeds.

                      Patience: How Long Until Blueberries Fruit?

                      Growing blueberries in pots in the UK is a rewarding venture, but it requires a bit of patience. Typically, blueberry plants take about 2 to 3 years to start producing fruit.



                      • Thank you. Helpful article.

                        Posted by June Harley | April 22, 2024
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